Monday, February 15, 2016

Godfrey Dearborn (1603-1686) Willoughby, Lincolnshire to Exeter, New Hampshire

Like many 16th century Englishmen, Godfrey Dearborn came from a small village, deep in the English countryside. Despite it's rural location, the area has provided history with some colorful characters.  The well known explorer and friend to Pocahontas, John Smith, hailed from the same small village as Godfrey. From the equally small town of Marbury came the notorious Anne Hutchinson, who mistakenly believed that she, a woman, could express her religious beliefs out loud without persecution. Anne's brother in law was the Reverend John Wheelwright who was born in Alford, he was the mover and shaker who led his congregation out of England and into the wilderness of New England. So, here is what I know about Godfrey Dearborn of Willoughby, Lincolnshire, England.

english origins
Godfrey's earliest identifiable ancestor is most  likely a Dearborn who lived in Hogsthorpe, near the coast of Lincolnshire. He had four known children including a son William who lived in Willoughby. This William was known to have had two sons, John and William. William was Godfrey's father.[1] The surname Dearborn was spelled variously Dearebarne, Dearbarne, Deareborne, and Dearborne. Take your pick. Dearborn Genealogy with original spellings.

photo of St. Peter's Markby by Richard Hoare
William Dearborn of Willoughby was born about 1570, his baptism record has not been found. He married Agnes Hay on 2 May 1594 at St. Peter's church in Markby, a church now famous for its thatched roof. Godfrey was baptized on 24 September 1603 in Willoughby. He was one of at least four children, all boys. [2] Agnes (An) Dearborn, his mother, died and was buried 29 August 1613. Godfrey was ten years old, his youngest brother was only five. William remarried, his second wife Jane, was buried in 1628. William died without a will in 1631. Administration of his estate was given to his son George, a weaver in the parish of Sloothby. Godfrey was recorded as owing the estate a debt. [3] 

As I said, Godfrey was baptized in September of 1603. [4] I have seen it written in various places on the internet that he was born in 1599 but not baptized until four years later. I have to ask, how in the world would we know that? My answer is, no way. Infant baptism was the norm at the time, most babies were baptized within a few weeks if not days of their birth. The first year of life was a perilous time, and baptism was believed to offer some protection against death. In fact it was not unheard of for children to be baptized a second time if they were very ill. I believe that there is no reason to think that Godfrey was born earlier than September of 1603.

Godfrey married at age twenty six. He was working as a weaver, like his brother George. His wife was from a village a few miles away. His name was spelled Godfrie Dearebarne and his wife was Lucie Feilds. The marriage took place in the parish church of All Saints on 23 June 1629.[5] Lucie is said to have been the widow of John Fields, her maiden name was Richardson. If any has a source for her first marriage please pass it on. 

Just shy of a year later, Lucie gave birth to a son, named William in honor of Godfrey's father. He was baptized on 6 June 1630 in the same church his parents were married.[6] Three months later he was buried. Lucie herself may have died shortly after giving birth, if not immediately, then soon after as Godfrey was remarried by 1632. William Dearborn died and was buried in November of 1631, death was never very far away. 

who was wife #2
In October of 1632, the second wife of Godfrey Dearborn gave birth to a son. They named him Thomas and he was baptized on 1 November 1632.[7] The parish church where the baptism occurred was in the village of Hannah cum Hagnaby. What a great name that one is. Hannah is only about ten miles to the north of Orby and is next to the village of Markby where Godfrey's parents were married. 

The name of the second wife is said to be Anne Goody. I found this on wikitree and ancestry. No marriage record has been found for them. So what is the source for the name Ann Goody? The only time this woman's name was written was on January 4, 1650.[8] She and her husband were assigned seats in the meetinghouse, she was identified only as Goody Dearborn. I think someone somewhere as taken the word Goody and applied to her as a surname. The name Anne appears nowhere in connection with Godfrey's wife. She is, poor thing, completely unknown.  

Godrey and his nameless wife had at least six children. Two sons were born and baptized in England. A third child, a daughter may have been born in England, they rest were born in New Hampshire. All of his children were named in his will and survived him. It is possible, of course, that there were other children that died and went unrecorded.

1. Thomas, bp. 1 Nov 1632, Hannah, Lincolnshire, m. Hannah Colcord, d. 1710 in Hampton
2. Henry, bp. 23 March 1633/4, Hannah, Lincolnshire, d. 1725 Hampton.
3. daughter, perhaps Susan bp. 23 April 1636, Wainfleet St. Mary, Lincolnshire [9]
4. Ester, b? m. Richard Shortridge of Portsmouth
5. Sarah, b. abt. 1641, Exeter, m. Thomas Nudd of Hampton
6. John, b. abt. 1642, Exeter, m. Mary Ward, d. 1731 Hampton.

Godfrey's passage to his new home cannot be found in any records. The first mention of him in New England was when he made his mark on a document known as the Exeter Combination. This document was drawn up to establish the new town of Exeter on 4 July 1639. The group of men who signed were followers of the Reverend John Wheelwright who had landed in Boston in 1636. After the blow up known as the Antinomian Affair, he and his sister in law, Anne Hutchinson were banished from Massachusetts, she went to New York. John and his followers migrated north to New Hampshire, where he believed he was out of the reach of the Governor of Massachusetts. 

When Godfrey arrived, and whether he was first in Massachusetts is not known. But he did well for himself once he arrived. He lived in Exeter for about ten years. During that time he received land grants, served as a selectman and served on the Gran Jury of the Essex Quarterly Court. In 1646 he was made a freeman of the colony. 

In 1650 Godfrey and his wife were living in Hampton. They were recorded as being assigned seats in the fourth row of the meeting house. This is the only time I can find mention of her, and then only as Goody Dearborn. Godfrey continued to serve on juries and as a selectman. He must have been an upstanding citizen as he rarely appeared in court as the defendant. 

On 2 November 1662, Godfrey married for a third time. His wife was Dorothy Dalton, a widow. His children were grown, as were hers. Living alone was difficult for both men and women, there was just too much work to do. She didn't bring much to the marriage. She had a feather bed and bolster, a rug and coverlet and a red flannel petticoat and a great bible. 

In 1680, the seventy three year old Godfrey, feeling his years, put pen to paper and wrote out his last will and testament. He made provisions for his wife, is she survived him. He left a heifer to his Granddaughter Ann Shotridge who lived with him and Dorothy. He left his cattle to his eldest sons, his daughters got the household good, but the bulk of the estate went to his youngest son John. 

Godfrey died in Hampton on 4 February 1685/6. Dorothy's death was not recorded. 


[1] Victor Channing Sanborn, "Lincolnshire Origins of Exeter Settlers", The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 68 (1914) 64-73, digital images, American Ancestors (hppts:// : accessed 13 February 2016).

[2] Sanborn, "Lincolnshire Origins," 64-73,

[3] Sanborn, "Lincolnshire Origins," 64-73.

[4] "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch( : accessed 14 February 2016), Godfrey Dearborne, 24 Sep 1603; citing WILLOUGHBY WITH SLOOTHBY,LINCOLN,ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 508,091.

[5] "England Marriages, 1538–1973 ," database, FamilySearch( : accessed 14 February 2016), Godfrie Dearebarne and Lucie Feilds, 23 Jun 1629; citing Orby,Lincoln,England, reference ; FHL microfilm 504,584.

[6] "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch( : accessed 14 February 2016), Godfrey Dearborne in entry for Willyam Dearborne, 06 Jun 1630; citing , reference ; FHL microfilm 504,584.

[7] "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch( : accessed 14 February 2016), Godffrey Dearbarne in entry for Thos Dearbarne, 01 Nov 1632; citing HANNAH CUM HAGNABY,LINCOLN,ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 504,236.

[8] Hampton Records Vol. 1,  (Hampton: Hampton Historical Society, 2014) 25,digital images, Archive ( : accessed 14 February 2016). Goodman Dearborn and Goody Dearborn seated in the fourth seat. 

[9] "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch( : accessed 14 February 2016), Godfrey Dearburne in entry for Susan Dearburne, 21 Apr 1636; citing WAINFLEET SAINT MARY, LINCOLN, ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 1541980 IT 2.

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